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I Am Skooter  So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
Saxophones started blowing me down  / I was buried in sound / Taxicabs were driving me around
— Wilco, Handshake Drugs
June 14, 2010
Arcade Fire Playing at the Notman House in Montreal

Arcade Fire at the Notman House from POP Montréal on Vimeo.

More new Arcade Fire at the Notman House from POP Montréal on Vimeo.

Posted by skooter at 5:49 PM
Tags: Arcade Fire, Concerts, Montreal, Videos

May 15, 2009
Montreal's Bixi Bike Sharing in the New York Times

The New York Times gives Montreal’s new Bixi program glowing coverage while Vancouver’s drivers continue to whine about the loss of a lane on the Burrard Bridge in favour of bikes.

Bike sharing programs are great, and it’s nice to see them being put in place in a hilly city like Montreal. From the article:

On a test ride, I found the bike to be stable and comfortable. The three gears, while widely spaced, included one low enough for climbing roads running up the extinct volcano which forms the island of Montreal.

Hills in Vancouver are the continuing red herring against a bike sharing program, along with the fiction that cycling is only good for people who are already fit. Hopefully we can get over this and get a program in place.

Posted by skooter at 6:18 PM
Tags: Bike Sharing, Montreal

February 18, 2009
The Battle on the Plains of Abraham

I understand the sentiment behind why this was cancelled, but I can’t help but perceive this as political correctness winning over history. I had actually considered going to see this.

At this point, I’d like to see a modern day recreation with Rene Levesque leading the French & Pierre Trudeau leading the English side. These modern day warriors are deserving of a tribute, and I can’t help but think that rather than complaining about it happening Levesque would have had the event go forward, thumbing his nose at it the whole time and using it as a tool to remind the Québécois of their oppression by the English majority.

Plains of Abraham re-enactment cancelled
Safety, security concerns spur National Battlefields Commission to pull plug on controversial replay of 1759 France-Britain battle
RHÉAL SÉGUIN, Globe and Mail Update, February 17, 2009 at 2:18 PM EST

QUEBEC — A slugfest of insults between federalists and separatists that threatened to turn to violence led to cancellation of the re-enactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham marking the 250th anniversary of the British conquest of New France.

For weeks a war of words erupted in newspapers, on the web and on open line radio shows where extremists on both sides threatened to use violence to either stop next summer’s re-enactment from taking place or protect it against disruptions.

It appeared as though a modern version of the Plains of Abrahams battle was in the making, which led the head of the federal agency known as the National Battlefields Commission André Juneau to back down from his idea to re-enact the 1759 French defeat at the hands of the British.

“Given the excessive language in the past few days and the threats mad through the media, we could not as responsible agency compromise the security of families and children who could attend the event,” Mr. Juneau said in cancelling the event. “It was odious and unreasonable to have suggested that the Commission planned to celebrate a military defeat.”

Posted by skooter at 1:59 AM
Tags: Pierre Trudeau, Quebec, Rene Levesque, Separatism

March 20, 2008
The Two Canadas

From Foreign Policy, Number 81, Winter 1990—1991 published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Written by Jeffrey Simpson. It’s interesting how much this post-Meech pre-Charlottetown paranoia has simply evaporated from the political system, despite the fact that Quebe politics continues to be dominated by le Bloc Québébois

Twenty-five years ago, a royal commission investigating relations between English and French-speaking Canadians warned that “Canada, without being fully conscious of the fact, is passing through the greatest crisis in its history.”…

Today, despite myriad institutional and policy changes over the past two and a half decades designed to smooth relations between French and English-speaking Canadians, the commission’s words still aptly describe Canadian reality…in the aftermath of the June 1990 collapse of a constitutional accord desired by the French-speaking province of Quebec.

The failure of the so-called Meech Lake accord…and especially the bitter debate outside Quebec has pushed support for Quebec independence, or at least increased sovereignty, to its highest levels ever.

…today many Canadians—and certainly a majority of the English-seaking ones—have not fully grasped how and why the Meech Lake trauma left Canada so badly shaken.

…Quebec is slightly over-represented in the Conservative party government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, himself a Quebecker. No policies of the national government are considered so iniquitous or injurious in Quebec that the province should leave the country on their account.

And yet the threat to Canadian unity has never been more severe than in the aftermath of the collapse of Meech Lake…It is a crisis that envenoms further what the French observer André Siefgried…called in 1907 the “fears and jealousies” between English- and French-speaking Canadians. it is a crisis of confidence about whether Canada, after 123 years as a federal state, is still worth the effort.

The Meech Lake Accord was both cause and victim of these “fears and jealousies.”….

Meech Lake…crystallized a debate between two fundamentally incompatible views of Canadian federalism that Canadian politicians of every stripe had frequently attempted to fudge: the view in Quebec that the province deserved special recognition and particular powers because of its French-speaking identity; and the view elsewhere that all provinces must be constitutionally equal…This outdated idea left behind both multicultural Canadians, who now represent nearly a third of the population, and Canada’s aboriginal peoples, who felt excluded from the debate.

A poll by the Globe and Mail or Toronto and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation taken four months before the collapse of Meech Lake showed that 71 per cent of respondents knew little or nothing about the accord, yet a similar number professed strong or very strong views about it. A poll by the same organizations just after the accord’s demise showed that, despite months of media saturation, 62 per cent still knew little or nothing about the accord but a similar number had strong or very strong views about it.

Meech Lake had its political roots in a 1984 campaign speech given by [Brian] Mulroney…He promised to bring Quebeckers into the Canadian constitution with “honor and enthusiasm,”…

…For more than 20 years before the referendum Quebeckers had been debating their role in Canada; the referendum seemed to clinch their adherence to federalism. Mulroney perceived that if certain modest constitutional changes were made, moderate French-Canadian nationalists, including many who had campaigned for sovereignty-association, could be reconciled to federalism for a very long time.

…By promising to offer Quebec constitutional changes, he made the conservatives the preferred party for almost all French-Canadian nationalists.

Quebec presented five basic demands…Meech Lake was duly signed by the prime minister and the ten provincial premiers in the early spring of 1987….When Quebec’s National Assembly became the first legislature to approve Meech Lake on June 23, 1987, the three-year time clock began ticking.

At the time of Meech Lake’s negotiation and for some time thereafter, the accord scarcely touched the nation’s consciousness.

The first blow against Meech Lake was delivered by the father of the 1982 constitutional changes, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. In a series of scathing public criticisms, he tore into the accord, claiming it would eventually grant Quebec special status…

Subsequent provincial elections in Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland brought to power premiers who had not signed the original Meech Lake accord…Attempts were made for a year to find a solution to the impasse through public debate and federal provincial meetings culminating in a marathon six-day, closed-door meeting in June 1990.

…Nothing was more damaging in English-speaking Canada than a decision by the Quebec government in December 1988 to ban outdoor signs with advertising in both English and French…the Supreme court hinted that a law that gave French a predominant position on outdoor signs with another language less-prominently displayed, was acceptable.

…[Quebec Premier] Bourassa, worried about an upsurge of nationalist sentiment, invoked the “notwithstanding clause”…

The premier’s decision brought about the resignation of three respected English-speaking cabinet ministers…To [moderate English-speaking Canadians] the decision signaled Quebec’s apparent indifference to attitudes elsewhere in Canada, an indifference that hardened attitudes against what Quebec was seeking: the Meech Lake accord.

With Meech Lake the focus of Canadian attention, old grievances toward Quebec where aroused. In Manitoba citizens bitterly recalled a decision of the Mulroney government to grant aircraft maintenance contract to a Montreal company, despite a less costly and technically superior bid from a Winnipeg firm. In Newfoundland, citizens remembered a reprehensible hydroelectric deal by which Hydro Quebec took power from the rivers of Labrador for a pittance then resold it at a huge profit to the United States…

Since 1968, with two very brief exceptions, prime ministers have come from Quebec…The next election will also be between parties led by Quebeckers: Mulroney and Jean Chrétien, the new leader of the opposition Liberal party. Some of the popular resentment in English Canada can be explained by imagining the reaction in America if every president since 1968 had come from the northeastern part of the country.

…the more interesting and difficult question is, What does English Canada want?

The mutual misunderstanding that often bedevils relations between French- and English- speaking Canadians reflects the traditional, and quite erroneous, view in Quebec that the rest of Canada…resembles Quebec: a relatively homogeneous bloc of people that can easily come to a national consensus…English-speaking Canada is nothing of the sort…Approximately 50 per cent of the children in the Vancouver elementary school system are of Asian descent; in Toronto white Angl-Saxon Protestants are now a minority.

…Canadians face three concerns that have plunged English-speaking Canada into a crisis of identity…First, the Mulroney government has pursued an agenda of deficit-reduction, privatization and trimming of social programs….

Second, the free-trade agreement with the United States severely divided English-speaking Canadians…A slim majority of English-speaking Canadians opposed free trade, many of the bitterly and passionately…the French-speaking population harbored no fears of cultural assimilation or loss of political sovereignty…

Third, Meech Lake once again forced English Canadians…to accomodate themselves to proposed constitutional changes beneficial to a province whose chronic restlessness and indifference toward the rest of Canada made it a source of profound irritation…If Meech Lake passed, many English Canadians concluded, Quebec would simply use the accord to demand even more powers and gradually achieve soverignty-association.

…In Manitoba…One politician—Elijah Harper, the only aboriginal politician in the legislature—used procedural tactics to prevent debate…

The defeat of Meech Lake has changed Canada’s future. The constitutional status quo is finished, though no one knows what will take its place…

In Quebec…Eight members of parliament—six Conservatives and two Liberals—resigned from their parties to for le Block Québécois in the House of Commons and a candidate from the new block trounced the old-line parties in a summer by-election in Quebec…

A year may pass before the political battle lines are formed in Quebec…During the referendum campaign of 1980, the overwhelming majority of business leaders in Quebe were hostile to sovereignty. Many are now willing to accept whatever political option Quebec chooses…

The free-trade agreement has encouraged Quebeckers to believe they are no longer dependent on the existing Canadian federal system for economic prosperity….Quebeckers assume that if they opt for independence, they could easily negotiate a similar deal with Washington…

…After nearly 15 years of deficit-financing, the country’s national debt consumes about one-third of every tax dollar sent to Ottawa…

Canada’s prospects after Meech Lake are complicated by the erosion of the national arties’ ability to build bridges between the two major language groups and among far-flung regions…as le Bloc Québécois is grabbing natinoalist votes in Quebec, a new formation called the Reform party is making important gains in Alberta and British Columbia…

Canada, in its own modest way, has represented a noble political experiment that a country could be formed in defiance of the enormous economic and cultural pull of the United States…

At the core of that distinctiveness lay an accommodation between French- and English- speaking Canadians and a mixed economy in which government plays a more interventionist role in society than it does in the United States…the Meech Lake accord shattered, probably irrevocably, the possibility of a harmonious accommodation between French- and English-speaking Canadians.

March 15, 2008
For An Independent Quebec

For An Independent Quebec appeared in Volume 54 of Foreign Affairs in 1976. It was authored by René Lévésque.

Launced in 1967—68, the Parti Québécois, whose platform is based on political sovereignty, now fills the role of Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition in the National Assembly—as we nostalgically designate our provincial legislature.

The next election might come any time now; this year in the fall, just after the Montréal Olympics, or at the latest in the fall of 1977…The present provincial government, a branch of the same Liberal Party which also holds power at the federal level under Pierre Elliott Trudeau, is obviously on the way out. It has been in power for six years, and ever since its send and Pyrrhic victor in 1973 (102 seats) it has been doing steadily downhill.

Throughout the next hundred years…French Québec…held on obstinately, according to its lights and as much as its humble means made it possible, to those two major ingredients of national identity—land and language.

Small and impotent though it was, French Québec never quite forgot the potential nation it had once been…Now and then, there were stirrings: a writer here, a small political coterie there; a great upsurge of nationalist emotions, in the 1880s around the Riel affair…

Inevitably there had to be a spillover into politics. More than half of our public revenue and most of the decisions that count were and are in outside hands, in a federal establishment which was basically instituted not by or for us…about 80 percent of Québec savings and potential investment capital ends up in banks and insurance companies whose operations are none of our business.

…while this dialogue of the deaf was going on and on, the idea of political independence reappeared as it had to. Not as a dream this time, but as a project, and very quickly as a serious one…and finally to a full-fledged national party in 1967-68. These were the same two years during which, by pure coincidence, Mr. Trudeau was just as rapidly being elevated to the heights as a new federalist champion from Québec.

…Our aim is simply full equality by the only means through which a smaller nation can reasonably expect to achieve it with a large one: self-government.

We do not accept the simplistic domino there, where Québec’s departure is presented as the beginning of a fatal dislocation…

Either-Ottawa-or is very simply inspired by prejudice, the origin of this nonsense mostly to be found inspired by prejudice, the origin of this nonsense mostly to be found in the tragic month of October 1970 and the great “crises” which our political establishments, under the astutely calculating Mr. Trudeau, managed to make out of a couple of dozen young terrorists, whose ideology was a hopeless hodgepodge of anarcho-nationalism and kindergarten Marxism, which ad no chance of having any kind of serious impact…A great spectacle produce in order to terrorize the Québécois forever back into unquestioning submissiveness, and, outside, to feed the mill of scary propaganda about how dangerous this tame animal could nevertheless be!

In brief Québec’s most privileged links, aside from its most essential relationship with the Canadian partner, would be first with the United States—where there is no imaginable reason to frown on such a tardy but natural and healthy development…The Québec would look to other Francophone or “Latin” countries as cultural respondents, and to France herself—who would certainly not be indifferent to the fact that this new nation would constitute the second most important French-speaking country in the world. In brief, such is the peaceful and, we confidently hope, fruitfully progressive state which may very well appear on the map of North America before the end of the decade.

Posted by skooter at 4:44 AM
Tags: Pierre Trudeau, Quebec, Rene Levesque, Separatism

March 14, 2008
Canada Votes for Separatism

No…not now, but back to 1978 again. From The Economist, October 21, 1978, Vol 269.

Canada Votes for Separatism
If Quebec still rejects the tories while the rest of Canada turns sour on Mr. Trudeau, the coming general election may break the country

Canada now stands poised for a fateful choice: a choice that will determine whether it continues to exist. Monday’s mini-election…revealed the perilous weaknesses both of Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal government and of the opposition Progressive Conservatives… [Mr. Joe Clark’s] own party, while triumphantly capturing no less than five Ontario seats formerly held by Liberal minister, failed once again to penetrate Quebec.

…the separatist tide that had swept Mr. Lévesque into office came up against a formidable barrier: the existence in Ottawa of a strong Liberal government. headed by a Québécois, committed to righting French Canadians’ ancient grievances….They held four fifths of the Quebec seats in the house of commons; his party held only three fifths of the provincial assembly seats, and it had won them on a minority (41%) vote.

…this is no time for Mr. Lévesque to beat the big drum. it is a long time since he has used such words as “independence” or “separation.” His party’s formula is “sovereignty-association,” and when he expounded this in the Quebec assembly on October 10th he emphasised that “We do not want to break our union with the rest of Canada, but rather to transform it radically.”

March 9, 2008
Quebec Separatism circa 1977

From The Economist’s February 12, 1977 edition (Vol. 262) a survey of the country prepared by Roland Bird, on the eve of that great referendum that fired passions as few political events have since.

Must the Unthinkable Happen?

Canada can never be the same after November, 15th….

Before Quebecers are consulted on whether they want to stay in Canada, the Lévesque government has a stupendous job to put Quebec’s finances straight, to get its economy moving, and to deal effectively with labour movement…

[Mr. Lévesque’s team] conceivably represents the best in ability that has ever been installed in provincial government throughout Canada’s history….he deals in an endless stream of political philosophy and of equivocal French concepts, rather than administrative practicalities.

He sees himself…as having some sort of “national mandate”, independent of any English vote or of any big business support.

…Now a country still largely governed by latitude rather than longitude is threatened by a possible economic and political breach that could—and almost certainly would—destroy it. It is really inconceivable that Canada could survive as three chunks…A sovereign Quebec would almost certainly be a protectionist Quebec.

…Bullying Quebec will serve no purpose except to encourage the separatists.

Canada is not a unitary country and never has been; it is Mr. Trudeau’s tragedy that he has failed to make it one…But he is the best prime minister Canada has got. There is no greater Canadian and no leader of greater intellectual ability, and he could grasp the country and its people and bring them into a new mood of greater self-confidence.

If Quebec Goes it Alone

René Lévesque did not sweep the Parti Québecois into power on November 15th by concentrating on separatism…_[he]_ went on to slaughter the Liberals with charges of bad government and scarcely another word about separatism.

…The Pequistes are committed to secession and will seek a mandate for it two years from now. Meantime they will show Canada and the world how much better they can run Quebec than the “corrupt” Liberals…Separatism is no longer the subject matter for some exciting romantic seminar…It is touch verismo policy, and if he were to show the slightest sign of backing off from it (which he will not) there are determined assocates in the part who would quickly get rid of [Lévesque] and do the job themselves.

…there is a crisis of decision, not just for Quebec, but for the whole of Canada…Would the Parti Québécois be acting illegally, as the prime minister has asserted, if it took Quebec out of confederation?

At a stroke, the Parti Québécois has mauled Mr. Trudeau’s power base, which is Quebec itself.

Before the Quebec election turned Canadian politics upside down, it was assumed that Mr. Trudeau might wait until the autumn of 1978 before calling a federal election. That timetable is by no means so certain now…For the time being, Mr Lévesque has a fistful of trumps and it is difficult to see Mr. Trudeau ruffling many of them.

The anti-Quebec feeling west of Ottawa was epitomised in the resignation of Mr. James Richardson last October from the ministry of defence…for many Canadians his was a voice registered against Mr. Trudeau for giving Quebec too much.

…_[Quebec]_ is as prosperous as it is, as self-confident as it is, as able to get so hideously close to deserting the rest of Canada and so destroying it, because of what Canada has done for it…Mr. Lévesque’s line has always been that independent status for Quebec would not mean total separation so much as a common association between two “countries”…

The Unhappy Trudeau

The opinion polls in September gave Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal government a mere 29% support…Mr. Trudeau has always been a fascinating mixture. His arrogance can be crushing. His intelligence is unmatched among Canadian prime ministers, with the possible exception of Louis St. Laurent…Yet he can be humble too, as he was after being re-elected by a gnat’s whisker in 1972.

…When he lost John Turner early last year, a wave of apprehension swept the country. Finance ministers do not resign lightly…There is noboy to match him as a potential rival for the prime minister’s office, nobody whom the party caucus would rather choose as a future leader of the Liberal party, if Mr. Trudeau were to go.

…Liberals do not go in for public assassinations, and certainly not of a Quebecer whose knifing would imperil the party’s standing in Quebec.

…After all Ottawa’s efforts to suppress the instinct for separatism in Quebec, the Bourassa government…has been swept out of office, and a government pledged to offering separatism installed with 70 our of 110 seats.

It must be tempting, when federal help on such a scale has manifestly failed in its political purpose, to withdraw it with the idea of chastening separatist aspirations…smacking a child when all that it has said is that it might be naughty would be an act of heavy handedness as silly as it would be ineffective…Either line would seem to be more helpful to Mr. Lévesque than to Mr. Trudeau: if he is bullied by Ottawa, he would convert more Quebecers to separatism; if he had more of the federal assistance that did not prevent his election, Quebec could take it and still go separatist.

…Other provinces may not love Quebec fr its ability to get its own way with ottawa, but they are in the same business themselves and would not see Quebec put down by Ottawa for the simple reason that it might happen to them next…separatism is a long way short of a burning commitment in the popular mind. It is no longer a revolutionary call, as it undoubtedly seemed in 1970, at a time when it had a hideous by-product of violence…

More practical notions are abroad today…a redistribution of power…If [Mr. Trudeau] asks Canadians for a mandate to fight separatism before it has been clearly defined by Mr. Lévesque and endorsed by the Quebec electorate, he would be taking on a constitutional cockshy. And conceivably worst of all must be the possibility that referendum and federal election will fall almost simultaneously in the autumn of 1978. Could he resign in order to lead the Quebec Liberals (he once said he would, if Mr. Lévesque ever got in) leaving Mr. Turner to take over?

October 29, 2007
Millions of Canadian Taxpayer Dollars

Millions of taxpayer dollars go to Bombardier every year…you’d think they could building landing gear that would stay on a plane.

Scandinavian Airlines drops Bombardier Q400 turboprops
It’s ‘very safe,’ Montreal-based Bombardier says of aircraft assembled in Toronto
Last Updated: Sunday, October 28, 2007 | 4:38 PM ET
CBC News
Scandinavian Airlines System has decided to permanently stop flying Canadian-made Bombardier Q400 turboprops after a string of crash landings blamed on landing gear malfunctions, the airline’s chief executive said Sunday.

September 18, 2007
Three Elections and not a Liberal In Sight

If I were betting I’d still say the next election is going to be a Conservative minority, but this week’s results might lend some credence to a majority instead.

They certainly aren’t lending an credence to Stephane Dion, who I maintain was the wrong choice. Bob Rae would have been better, and that’s slim pickings.

November 26, 2006
Congratulations Monsieur Duceppe

According to CTV news

Duceppe says ‘nation’ motion plays into his hands

Updated Sun. Nov. 26 2006 2:17 PM ET
CTV.ca News Staff

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe says he wasn’t caught in his own trap when Prime Minister Stephen Harper recognized Quebec as a nation this week, instead he said it was a big step forward for sovereigntists.

Tomorrow—November 27, 2006—our country proceeds down the slippery slope towards breaking apart, with our Stephen Harper giving it an extremely vigorous push.

You can bet that if it’s good for the separatists, it’s not good for the rest of Canada.

In the immediate future, this is why:

Canada is the first country recognizing the Quebec nation — that Quebecers form a nation — and in the near future other countries will do so.” [said Mr. Duceppe.]

Question Period co-host Craig Oliver pointed out that the motion, which is expected to be approved by the House of Commons on Monday, gives no new powers to Quebec and is simply an opinion of the House.

Duceppe responded that the Bloc will use the wording of the motion to its advantage, and will attempt to force the government to address concerns passed unanimously by the National Assembly of Quebec.

The long term effect will be more severe. The National Assembly of Quebec has been empowered, as have its citizens. The questions that we’ve been wrestling with since the days of the quiet revolution do not stop tomorrow, they only get worse.

Posted by skooter at 5:33 PM
Tags: Nationalism, Stephen Harper

November 23, 2006
"A Nation Within Canada"

According to Merriam Webster, a nation is:

nation

Pronunciation: ‘nA-sh&n
Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English nacioun, from Anglo-French naciun, from Latin nation-, natio birth, race, nation, from nasci to be born; akin to Latin gignere to beget — more at KIN

1 a (1): NATIONALITY 5a (2) : a politically organized nationality (3) : a non-Jewish nationality b : a community of people composed of one or more nationalities and possessing a more or less defined territory and government c : a territorial division containing a body of people of one or more nationalities and usually characterized by relatively large size and independent status

2 archaic : GROUP, AGGREGATION

3: a tribe or federation of tribes (as of American Indians)

According to Stephen Harper, Quebec is a nation.

The slippery slope to Canada’s demise has now crossed the tipping point. Why I have to lose my nation to support the political amibitions of a few is lost on me.

I was reeling last night when I heard this. As reported in the Globe and Mail this morning, Mr. Harper has:

“…introduced a motion that ‘this House recognize that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada.’”

This is problematic, and has effectively destroyed a country that many hold dear. This is a country that is the envy of the world on so many levels, and yet our Prime Minister has given it all away.

Supported “enthusiastically” by other parties and Michael Ignatieff, Québec separatists now have the means to claim recognition on the world stage; they have the ability to claim that Quebec is now deserving of “independent status” as a nation.

This is wrong on so many levels.

Canada is a bilingual nation. In recent years this bilingualism has grown more and more imbalanced, although this is not historically true. As Michael Ignatieff himself is fond of pointing out, 150 years ago while this nation was being carved out of a rugged wilderness, French was the language of commerce in the west—not English.

Canadians who speak French as their primary language live throughout the country, with significant population centres outside of Québec. New Brunwick’s Acadians and Manitoba’s French speakers are good examples of this.

Giving Québec special status—calling it a nation in any context—leaves Canada as a country divided. It leaves us as a country torn in two by naked political ambition. With little support in the province of Québec the Conservative Party of Canada has chosen to build their political base in the short term at the expense of the greatest long term sacrifice that could possibly be made.

Dictionary.com defines nation as:

nation
na‧tion[ney-shuhn]
–noun
# a large body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own: The president spoke to the nation about the new tax.
# the territory or country itself: the nations of Central America.
# a member tribe of an American Indian confederation.
# an aggregation of persons of the same ethnic family, often speaking the same language or cognate languages.

Québec is not an aggregation of persons of the same ethnic family, but it is not long until it will possess “a government peculiarly its own.” It already calls it’s provincial Legislature the National Assembly.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a nation as:

na·tion (nshn)
n.
A relatively large group of people organized under a single, usually independent government; a country.

The territory occupied by such a group of people: All across the nation, people are voting their representatives out.

The government of a sovereign state.

A people who share common customs, origins, history, and frequently language; a nationality: “Historically the Ukrainians are an ancient nation which has persisted and survived through terrible calamity” (Robert Conquest).

A federation or tribe, especially one composed of Native Americans.

The territory occupied by such a federation or tribe.

The stake into the heart of Canada has been driven by Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff. I can’t believe this is happening.

December 10, 2005
M. Duceppe and Quebec

M. Duceppe has spoken out, claiming that ‘Bloc MP’s are the only ones who will speak out for Quebec.’

Sorry M. Duceppe, I just don’t buy it.

From the extremely narrow highly biased pre-defined viewpoint of your separatist agenda, absolutely. The rest of the country’s MPs will continue to argue in favour of a unified country, at least until your vote comes.

Then watch out for the west.

I digress, however. The point is every MP speaks out for Quebec. I’m so tired of David Emerson — the senior minister for BC — making announcements in Quebec, from Quebec and about Quebec. Every other press release from his office is an announcement about some grant, incentive, policy or loan that will benefit Quebec.

I love Quebec, don’t get me wrong. Montreal would be my prefered home outside of Vancouver, and I miss the culture of French that should exist here; it really should, given how predominantly French the west was only a century ago.

But, M. Duceppe, don’t try to get me to swallow this line that no one speaks out for Quebec. Quebec has benefited from Confederation disproportionately since the day the ink dried on that agreement.

Posted by skooter at 9:12 AM

December 5, 2005
Disappear?

Monsieur Duceppe has suggested that he wants to make all Liberals disapper in Quebec, and is getting his wrist slapped as a result.

Let’s not make a mountain out of a molehill here — with the Liberals saying the remark “smacks of Naziism” there’s little doubt who’s blowing it out of proportion.

As for the goal, M. Duceppe — have no fear, Mr. Martin has taken care of that one for you already. Have no doubt.

Posted by skooter at 9:00 AM

November 30, 2005
Quebec

Quebec is the sleeper issue of this campaign, in many ways. I’m waiting for the discussion to start.

Posted by skooter at 10:56 PM

November 24, 2005
Perennial Also Ran?

Mr. Harper is about to learn that tabling a motion is a great deal easier than winning an election, I’m afraid.

“After 17 months in office the record of this government – or I should say in many instances its lack of record – has become unacceptable to a large majority of members of the House representing on overwhelming majority of Canadian voters…”

So on Monday our representatives vote, and we head to an election on an as yet undetermined date. This is one that I’m dreading at this point, in part because it seems so fatalistic on my part. It’s also 100% certain to set the stage for a referendum on The Quebec Question.

Mr. Harper you are — quite simply — wasting your (and our) time. It makes me sad.

though it hurts me to see you this way
betrayed by words
i’d never heard
too hard to say them

Posted by skooter at 8:23 AM

November 1, 2005
Gomery

If Jean Chretien had his heart in the right place and was fighting for a noble cause, does this make the mistakes of the sponsorship scandal acceptable?

Posted by skooter at 8:33 AM

October 30, 2005
President Gilles?

This should come as no shock to anyone:

The Globe and Mail: Duceppe gets massive support in confidence vote

In a followup leadership review to an election which tied the Bloc Quebecois’ best showing ever, there was little doubt that Gilles Ducepped would continue on as leader.

Duceppe has been charismatic and effective. While Stephen Harper floundered in the face of the sponsorship scandal, Deceppe was put forward a vision of Quebec that the electorate could vote for. In doing so, he also earned a key role in the most contentious parliament in recent memory.

Is Duceppe this generation’s Rene Levesque? I don’t think so - I think Levesque’s image still looms large in Quebecer’s mind - but Duceppe is well positioned to be the first leader of a sovereign Quebec nation.

Paul Martin is too weak a leader to win a fight against this man.

Posted by skooter at 5:45 PM

October 28, 2005
Quebec's Special Place

It may be a coincidence, but it’s not a surprising one that these two articles appear in the same edition of the Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail: Ex-separatist to run as Liberal

Quebec gets special child care deal

Quebec, while an essential part of this country in my view, continues to use the threat of separatism as a wedge in negotiations with the Federal government.

Separatism really reared its head first under the inspiring leadership of Rene Levesque. I disagreed with Levesque’s politics, but was continually impressed with his passion, vision and his ability to inspire others to see it. Levesque was a leader, and he very nearly led a nation.

The last two Quebecois Prime Minister’s this country has had - Trudeau and Chretien - were both staunch federalists, and made concessions to Quebec’s so called special status only rarely. Existing deals were honoured, but generally Quebec was only one of ten.

It’s no surprise that separatism rises in the national psyche when weak leadership allows Quebec to advance its needs in special ways. Quebec’s politicians (PQ and and Liberal alike) use the threat for leverage in gaining increased funding and greater autonomy on how to spend Federal transfers; Quebec’s citizens understand the advantages that they gain (at least those that pay attention to the Rest of Canada at all.)

The Mulroney government took a weak, pandering, concilliatory stance towards Quebec; thus was born the failed Meech Lake Accord, and the failed Charlottetown Accord. Both of these deals gave the special status notion as well as the notion that Quebec had been betrayed by the other provinces national attention, extended coverage. The separatis myth was perpetuated by this attention.

Paul Martin has taken the same conciliatory approach, perhaps in part in an attempt to ensure the re-election of a Liberal government in the next provincial elections (however unlikely.) In doing so, he continues to raise the ire of the Rest of Canada and the profile of separatism again.

If the Bloc Quebecois is re-elected with a majority of Quebec’s seats, the Parti Quebecois inevitably will be elected with a majority government. If this happens, our country will face yet another referendum and yet another round of financial uncertainty. Despite Prime Minister Chretien’s Clarity Act, the rest of the world still perceives instability in this decision.

And that is not good.

Posted by skooter at 2:33 PM

October 19, 2005
Quebec Separatism's First Lady

Rene Levesque’s widow has passed away from throat cancer.

Posted by skooter at 11:03 PM
Tags: Obituaries, Quebec

December 15, 2004
The Minister of Privatization Capitulates to Quebec

“You cannot just look at a company that’s in a crisis point and say, ‘Well, we’re going to let it die, and live with the ripple effects…I for one am not going to stand by and watch that happen to a very important sector of Canadian Industry.”
- Minister of Industry, David Emerson on Paul Tellier’s resignation from Bombardier, December 14th, 2004

With this, the man who privatized BC Ferries (an essential resource, as the Supreme Court has designated the Newfoundland ferry system) and the Vancouver Airport (essential for entirely different reasons) has crossed the line from being a small-c Liberal to being a large-C Communist. Well, maybe not quite — but his mind has certainly snapped somewhere.

Paul Tellier sold the parts of Bombardier that were good at generating cash flow (recreation) and were relatively predictable: economy in the dump? Probably fewer snowmobiles being bought. Middle of the winter? Why do we still have all these JetSki’s - get rid of ‘em, next year’s half way here.

Instead, Tellier has focused on Bombardier’s “bid” business: the type of mega-project business that keeps lobbyists and upper management steadily employed, but not the guys in the factories. Sure it comes and goes — and when it comes, it can be very very good — but when it goes it can really go.

Building Skytrains and planes that freeze up too easily (Wait: isn’t this company based in Quebec? Shouldn’t they know something about ice?) is sexy business, but it’s also very risky. If Vancouver needs a skytrain line today you spend a lot of money bidding on it: get it and the infrastructure pays off for a while; miss it, and you just wasted a lot of time (and money) bidding.

Does this sound like the kind of company that should be getting government money? Especially considering that so many of the projects they’re bidding on are funded by governments? Bombardier — and Tellier — was essentially getting a double subsidy in many cases, and it wasn’t really working.

No, Mr. Emerson, now is not the time to ask the Wizard for that heart you’ve been looking for these many years. Now is the time to use your Iron Mask for protection. If Bombardier is as robust a company today as it was in the past, it will rise again — and be stronger for it.

Now, let’s talk about those ferries again? Why’d we privatize them when you’re offering up this subsidy? I know — BC Ferries should be based in Quebec! That’s the ticket.

Posted by skooter at 9:25 AM
Tags: David Emerson, Liberals, Politics, Quebec

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